Iman Shumpert’s selection by the New York Knicks with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft surprised many people, especially with Kenneth Faried and Chris Singelton still available, but it is believed that guard out of Georgia Tech has much to offer.
Shumpert participated in Dwight Howard’s Celebrity Game last weekend, and Chris Broussard, who was also there, tweeted about how great a pick he was for New York.
However, Shumpert’s initial reception was less than warm. His new teammates welcomed him, but the Knicks fan base remained unpleasantly puzzled, rightfully so considering his name was hardly mentioned when it came to New York’s potential selections.
But the reality is Shumpert is now a Knick, not Singleton, not Faried, and it is time fans embrace this.
And after the ensuing slides provide a look at what Shumpert brings to the table for the New York, it will be much easier to do so.
Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups are already Knicks, so this attribute may be under appreciated by Knicks fans right now, but it will prove valuable should any of New York’s stars fall victim to a slump.
With Gerogia Tech last year, Shumpert averaged 17.3 points per game, a stat coach Mike D’Antoni and his players will welcome with open arms.
Shumpert’s three-point shooting is below average, but he makes up for it in his ability to drive the lane and score in the low post. His mid-range jumper is pretty solid as well.
In D’Antoni’s system, especially with Stoudemire and Anthony on the court, many may believe that scoring is not a need. However, when Anthony or Stoudemire are having an off night, and we have seen those before, New York needs someone to step in and relieve some of the offensive burden.
And Shumpert can do just this. Shawne Williams is a threat, but he is still too hesitant at taking more shots, and the same goes for Landry Fields. Toney Douglas’ offensive game is solid, yet he is too erratic at times.
Shumpert will only be a rookie, but his offensive game is grounded. His knowledge of the game is above average and as a result his shot selection is great.
Not to mention having another weapon in the offensive arsenal is only a good thing.
New York’s defensive deficiencies cannot be stressed enough as they try to reestablish their identity on that side of the ball, and Shumpert is only going to improve the situation.
Shumpert’s defensive game is similar to Douglas’, yet his added height gives him the ability to guard a broader range of positions. Shumpert will often be found defending point guards and shooting guards, but he can also match up again small forwards, and even some power forwards.
With Georgia Tech last year, Shumpert averaged nearly three steals per game, which is incredible. New York had the third worst defense in the league last year, allowing nearly 106 points per game. Any form of help on that end of the ball is a welcome addition.
Shumpert is going to help the Knicks against teams like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, when New York is tasked with guarding Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, two of the more elusive 2 guards in the league.
Additionally, Shumpert brings some much needed rebounding to the team. He averaged nearly six rebounds per game in his last year at Georgia Tech, impressive for shooting guard. His prowess on the glass is not unlike Fields’, who was one of the top rebounding guards in the league last year.
Defense is not a strength of New York’s. But it is of Shumpert’s.
And that makes him extremely valuable.
When the Knicks drafted Shumpert, it prompted many to wonder if Douglas had fallen out of favor with New York because of how similar their play styles were.
Shumpert, or “Toney Douglas 2.0” plays the same type of game as the real Douglas, only difference is he is four inches taller. Both handle the ball well, put in hard work on the defensive end and are offensive threats. Douglas’ three-point shooting is better though.
If that wasn’t enough, drafting a shooting guard in the first round could not have been a vote of confidence for Fields, who came off an impressive rookie season, averaging 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Fields’ production tailed off toward the end of last season, and he had a less than impressive postseason, which may have pushed the Knicks to find another solution at the shooting guard position.
Like it or not though, Shumpert aids in the development of both Fields and Douglas. Knowing that their spots on the roster are no longer guaranteed in the sense that they could come expendable should motivate them to elevate their production.
Yes, both Fields and Douglas had good years, but the mere prospect of the organization replacing one of them should spark the fire of motivation within them. Improving their game no longer comes down to strictly pure will, but now livelihood.
No one knows what direction New York is headed in for sure, but odds are not everyone is in their long term plans. Shumpert’s addition heightens the competition between the guards.
And hopefully at least one of the three will pleasantly surprise us next season.
As the last slide notes, Shumpert’s addition motivates Douglas and Fields to improve their games dramatically, but he also adds depth to a paper thin New York roster.
Whether or not Shumpert beats out Fields for the starting shooting guard position or takes minutes away from Douglas is irrelevant. Either way, there is one more capable scorer and defender coming off the bench.
Before the NBA draft, the Knicks two best defenders were Douglas and Fields. Both showed a willingness to improve and perform on that end of the floor that no one else did, including Anthony and Stoudemire.
And now the Knicks can add Shumpert to that mix. Some will say New York’s backcourt is now overcrowded, but it is anything but.
Douglas, by far, is the most dependable player coming off the bench. After him though, the list includes Williams and Bill Walker, solid role players, especially Williams, but not entirely consistent.
Shumpert could be that added punch off the bench the Knicks need to propel their game to the next level. Or maybe he is the answer as the starting shooting guard, in which case Fields becomes the dependable one off the bench.
Fields, Douglas and Shumpert are three players who have a solid all around game. They play not just offense, but defense as well, offering some much needed versatility.
Case and point: New York’s backcourt is not overcrowded, just full of options.
Obtaining another superstar, while not necessarily written in the cards, is a certain goal of New York’s.
The Knicks have their sights set on either Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns or Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, or both should they want Nash for the rest of the year and move onto Paul next summer via free agency.
After last season’s Anthony trade though, the Knicks are not exactly laden with assets. New York’s roster coming out of last season, with limited assets and jeopardizing injuries for Billups and Stoudemire, was like a house of cards.
Shumpert adds some stability to the mix. He seems ready to play at the NBA level, has no track record of any persisting injuries and he gives the Knicks a potentially coveted asset.
How valuable could he prove to be?
Shumpert was rated higher than Jimmer Fredette on the Suns’ list of potential draft selections, and if Markeiff Morris was off the board, Phoenix may have drafted the Georgia Tech Bulldog with the 13th overall pick in the draft, making him a lottery pick.
Despite Shumpert having been projected to drop as low as the second round, the Suns even considered taking him over Morris, but opted to not make the longest reach.
What does that tell us?
He certainly has potential. Phoenix’s prior interest indicates that could be an integral part of any potential Nash deal. Additionally, if the Suns think so highly of Shumpert, it is logical to believe he could draw the interest of the Hornets as well if negotiations take place between the two parties.
It may sound shallow to tag a draft pick as being a valuable trade asset before they even step foot on the court, but everything the Knicks have done over the past couple years was to put themselves in this kind of position.
Shumpert has the potential to make an impact on the court for New York in many different ways.
And one of those comes in the form of Paul or Nash.
Along with Shumpert will come a chip that is undoubtedly on his shoulder right now.
In regards to the previous slide, it has to be slightly demeaning to be considered a valuable trade asset as opposed to someone who can make a more tangible on the court contribution to the team. And it has to be tough knowing that a majority of New York thought your selection was a joke at first.
Shumpert is going to enter his rookie season looking to prove all of the critics wrong. He was projected as falling as far to the second round in the draft and then received a chorus of boos once he was selected.
This is the guy who was rated higher than Jimmer Fredette on some teams draft this. This is the shooting guard who is capable of running the point as well as defending positions 1, 2 and 3. And this is the guy who shut down Kemba Walker in a pre-draft workout.
Speculation can continue to run wild as to what trade package Shumpert can ultimately be a part of, but for now he is a New York Knick, and he wants to prove to the fans and rest of the basketball world that he belongs. And we cannot underestimate the production value of a player with something to prove or something to play for.
Shumpert is going to work twice as hard to ensure he does not miss a beat in his rookie season. Look for him to crash the boards hard, defend aggressively and attempt to take over on offense when no one else is.
Think of how well some players perform in the final year of their contract when they are trying to show how much they are truly worth, and then you will have a sense of what Shumpert is playing for. A player with something to prove is extremely dangerous.
And if the past few weeks have been any indication, we would be hard pressed to find a player more lethal than Shumpert.